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Works by
Ross Thomas
(Aka Oliver Bleeck)
(Writer)
[February 19, 1926-December 18, 1995]

Profile created August 19, 2009
Fiction
Writing as Ross Thomas
  • Ah, Treachery! (1994)
    Ah, Treachery!, the last novel Thomas wrote before his death, tells the story of one Captain Edd "Twodees" Partain, drummed out of the Army and hounded by rumors of his involvement in a secret operation in El Salvador. Twodees gets hired on to help a fundraiser for the "Little Rock folks" recover funds that were stolen from an illicit stash used to smooth over problems and pay off hush money. Meanwhile, Partain is involved in a storefront operation called VOMIT (Victims of Military Intelligence Treachery) trying to defend former intelligence operatives such as Partain from those who are trying to cover up the past permanently.

  • Voodoo, Ltd. (1992)
    Private eyes Arthur Chase Wu and Quincy Durant are hired to track down the two British hypnotists who may have been involved in the murder of a billionaire and a frame-up of the billionaire's girlfriend.

  • Twilight at Mac's Place (1990)
    In Twilight at Mac's Place, the quiet death of an aged spy triggers a desperate race to control his memoirs, which threaten to reveal Cold War secrets many would prefer stayed secrets. When the spy's estranged son receives the then dizzying sum of $100,000 for all rights to the work, he is properly dizzied. He is also smart enough to seek the help of veteran Cold Warriors McCorkle and Padillo, owners of a D.C. bar called Mac's Place that is both a capital landmark and a nest of intrigue.

  • The Fourth Durango (1989)
    The Fourth Durango is not your ordinary Durango. It's not in Spain, or Mexico, and it's not a ski town in the Colorado Rockies, although Durangos do exist in all of those places. This Durango has an industry, albeit a rather odd one-it is a hideout business, a place where people pay to find sanctuary from former friends and associates who are either trying to kill them, or have them killed. Into this Durango comes a former chief justice of a state supreme court, followed by son-in-law Kelly Vines to act as his emissary to the beautiful and savvy mayor. Following them come a false priest, and a run of murders. It takes a Ross Thomas to stir these characters into a witty and ingenious mix readers will not be able to -and certainly would not want to-resist.

  • Out On The Rim (1987)
    Would you be wary if someone gave you the assignment of delivering five million dollars to a Philippine terrorist—never mind from whom or why? Booth Stallings, a terrorism expert just fired from his job at a bashful organization that never admitted its mount in the Washington merry-go-round, is wary. So wary that he cuts in con man “Otherguy” Overby, who in turn involves Artie Wu, pretender to the throne of China, and his partner, Quincy Durant. Obviously, good patriots don’t want to hand over all that money to bad guys. Better they keep it for themselves. Which inevitably raises the question: Who among them will end up with the money?

  • Briarpatch (1984) -- Winner 1985 Edgar Award for Best Novel
    A long-distance call from a Texas city on his birthday gives Benjamin Dill the news that his sister—it’s her birthday, too, they were born exactly ten years apart—has died in a car bomb explosion. It’s the chief of police calling—Felicity Dill worked for him; she was a homicide detective. Dill is there that night, the beginning of his dogged search for her killer. What he finds is no surprise to him, because Benjamin Dill is never surprised at what awful things people will do—but it’s a real surprise to the reader. As Newsday said when the novel was first published, “One sure thing about Ross Thomas’s novels: A reader won’t get bored waiting for the action to start.”

  • Missionary Stew (1983)
    Missionary Stew follows political fundraiser Draper Haere on a quest to uncover the secret behind a right-wing coup in an unnamed Central american country. Haere seeks the information in order to get dirt on his boss's opponent in the 1984 US Presidential election. Haere's pursuit of the truth repeatedly puts Haere's life in danger, as the powers-that-be stop at nothing to keep the episode buried. Along the way, Haere carries on an affair with the wife of his candidate and enlists the aid of Morgan Citron, an almost-Pullitzer winning journalist who has recently been released from an African prison where the prisoners where fed human flesh--the titular missionary stew. Together Citron and Haere face up against cocaine traffickers, Latin American generals, corrupt US officials, and Citron's estranged, tabloid-publisher mother.

  • The Mordida Man (1981)
    Accepting a presidential assignment when an international terrorist is kidnapped and the terrorist's friends abduct the president's brother in answer, independent fixer Chubb Dunjee investigates a trail of ruthlessly dangerous players.

  • The Eighth Dwarf (1979)
    In the wake of World War II, a spy and a dwarf conceive a lucrative plan to find a Nazi killer and deliver him to the Allies, playing one country against another in a dangerous game of intrigue.

  • Chinaman's Chance (1978)
    "It was while jogging along the beach just east of the Paradise Cove pier that Artie Wu tripped over a dead pelican, fell, and met the man with six greyhounds."     - from Chinaman's Chance

    Thus begins what may be the most popular of Ross Thomas's unique stories. The combination of Wu, pretender to the Imperial throne of China, and Quincy Durant, who has his own colorful past, makes for a heady experience. After starting with the deceased pelican on a California beach, the plot mixes in the disappearance of a large sum of money that should have been buried in Vietnam, and the search for the missing member of a trio of singing sisters from the Ozarks. Only Thomas could have stirred this concoction with the style, humor, and suspense that captures the reader at the very beginning and doesn't let go until the last word.

  • Yellow Dog Contract (1976)
    A large sum of money brings former campaign manager and Washington insider Harvey Longmire out of retirement and on the trail of a missing union leader, a trail that leads through the seamy side of the Capital's political scene.

  • The Money Harvest (1975)
    A few hours before he was to have revealed a shocking secret, ninety-two-year-old Crawdad Gilmore, advisor to six presidents, is murdered, and Jake Pope must figure out who killed him and why.

  • If You Can't Be Good (1973)
    In a world where everyone has an angle, a grudge, or a scam, would-be historian and muckraker Deek Lewis attempts to find out who set a young woman on fire.

  • The Porkchoppers (1972)
    Two bitter union bosses conduct a nationwide duel over billions of dollars in an expose of political maneuvering whose characters include adulterers, lackeys, and special interest groups.

  • The Backup Men (1971)
    Wanda and her brother Walter hire McCorkle to help them protect an Arab prince from the most accomplished assassin in the world, but the situation becomes dicey when Walter is murdered.

  • The Fools in Town are on Our Side (1970)
    "Hain't we got all the fools in town on our side? And ain't that a big enough majority in any town?" -- Mark Twain

    Ross Thomas chose the quotation from Huckleberry Finn as the text of his post World War II story as well as for the title. When Lucifer Dye is released from three months in a Hong Kong prison, debriefed, handed a false passport, a new wardrobe and a $20,000 check, his haughty control makes it clear that Dye's career with his country has been permanently terminated. But a good agent is always in demand, and just a few hours later Dye is being interviewed for a highly ingenious position. Victor Orcutt, although a not very good imitation of a British pre-war gent, has creative talents of his own. He has his sights a small southern city, with the ordinary run-of-the-mill corruption one would expect in such a place. The canny Orcott knows there's no profit in that . His creed is "To get better, it must be much worse." He and his two associates have looked up Dye's history, and he now offers the ex-spy's a mission. For two and a half times the government's bounty, Dye is to thoroughly corrupt the town. And the sly Dye takes the offer.

  • Singapore Wink (1969)
    Edward Cauthorne, an ex-Hollywood stunt man and used car salesman whose career had been cut short by the Mafia with a mishap that killed his partner, is given the opportunity to receive $25,000 if he can find his partner alive, in a twisted tale of murder and blackmail.

  • Cast a Yellow Shadow (1967)
    Directed by an anonymous perpetrator to kill a South African prime minster, soldier of fortune Michael Padillo is told that his partner's kidnapped wife will die if he fails to comply.

  • The Seersucker Whipsaw (1967)
    Political manager Clinton Shartelle receives the challenge of a life-time when he travels to the small African nation of Albertia to run a political campaign against a candidate who is heavily backed by the CIA.

  • The Cold War Swap (1966) -- Winner 1967 Edgar Award for Best First Novel
    In The Cold War Swap, Saloon owner 'Mac' McCorkle runs a popular bar in Bonn, Germany. He becomes the cloak and good friend of a very suave, multilingual, and lethal dagger named Mike Padillo. Late of the OSS, Padillo is the man they send out on the little 'jobs' that never make the papers. His assignment in the 'Swap' is to bring back defectors from the NSA (No Such Agency, at the time) through Checkpoint Charlie. Unfortunately, anything that could go wrong does, and McCorkle is soon on his way to help Padillo through the assorted mayhem, kid-nap-ping, murder, and the odd double- and triple-crosses.

Writing as Oliver Bleeck
  1. The Brass Go-Between (1969)
    Asked to deliver a quarter of a million dollars to whomever has stolen a prized African shield from a Washington museum, Philip St. Ives soon finds himself involved in a dangerous game.

  2. Protocol for a Kidnapping (1971)
    Asked by the United States government to rescue a U.S. ambassador kidnapped by Yugoslavian radicals, professional go-between Philip St. Ives finds himself trapped in Eastern Europe.

  3. The Procane Chronicle (1971)
    Movie (1976): St. Ives with Charles Bronson  DVD  DVD
    Assigned to deliver the ransom money to whomever stole thief Abner Procane's diaries, professional go-between Philip St. Ives finds himself stumbling across dead bodies and cops on the make.

  4. The Highbinders (1973)
    A nasty gambler, a purveyor of goods named Tic-Toc, and Eddie Apanasewicz, the best con man around, convene in London, where they search for a stolen antique sword whose hilt contains a priceless gem.

  5. No Questions Asked (1976)
    After losing the trail of a pair of book thieves he is tailing, Philip St. Ives flies to Miami to pay a call on the book's owner, a rich woman with a taste for pain.

Non-fiction
  • Spies, Thumbsuckers, Etc. (1989)
    Limited signed edition of 350 copies. A thumbsucker is an article written on demand for a journal, something done in a hurry for a recent story.

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